, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 18- The government has pledged to ensure smooth implementation of the 1985 bilateral agreement with Tanzania which allows tourist vans to drop tourists at convenient points between Kenya and Tanzania.
East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie says the two countries have agreed to create awareness among tour operators to ensure that the deal is respected and avoid any conflict.
Under the agreement revived in March this year, tour vehicles from Kenya are only allowed to drop tourists at designated towns in Tanzania and vice versa unlike leaving them at the border points or going to undesignated areas in either of the countries which has previously brought about rivalry.
“For a very long time, Tanzania vans had access to Maasai Mara and our parks. But it wasn’t happening the other way round. So there was a lot of complaints coming from the private sector in Kenya and that is why we agreed to go back to the 1985 bilateral agreement,” Kandie said.
The partner states also agreed to scrap all fees levied on tour vans, tour guides and couriers.
But as late August this year, Kenyan tour operators were still raising concerns that Tanzania vans were still taking their tourists to local parks and tour sites against the bilateral agreement which only allowed designated areas.
Even as the two states work on ensuring smooth implementation, the CS urged the tour operators to follow the signed deal for the two countries to share the tourism resources without bringing in unnecessary competition.
Kandie was speaking on Tuesday morning while giving an update on some of the milestones made in the EAC integration process.
On the EAC Single Tourist Visa which has already been adopted by Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, Kandie said that Tanzania has already “hinted that it will soon join the initiative.”
Alongside the EAC Single Tourist Visa, citizens in the three countries can also use their national IDs to travel among the states.
The Kenya government has already set aside close to Sh50million to create awareness about the EAC integration process whose penetration stands at 60 percent among the citizens.
Kandie was speaking ahead of the 16th Ordinary EAC Heads of State Summit which will be held in Nairobi on November 30.
The main agenda of the summit is to look at the achievements made so far in the region and some of the challenges facing the integration process.